While last year was all about smartphones for Realme, the Chinese company expanded its presence to the accessories area in 2019. The company's first headphones were Rs. 499 Realme Buds, followed by the recently launched Realme Buds 2, which are priced at Rs. 599. Shortly after the launch of Realme Buds 2, the company launched Realme Buds Wireless, its first wireless earbud.
Priced at Rs. 1,799, the Realme Buds Wireless continues the battle for Xiaomi, which also recently launched the Mi Neckband Bluetooth headphones in India. Though a little more expensive, there's a bit more to offer here, including the sound tuned by DJ Alan Walker and an claimed 12-hour battery life. Does the Realme Buds Wireless live up to the hype? We find out in our review.
Realme Buds wireless design and specifications
Really wireless headphones are becoming increasingly popular, and Realme could advance into this area in the coming months. So far, however, the company has adopted wireless headphones in an affordable form – neckband style earphones. The headset has a flexible neckband with metal modules at the ends, short cables that lead to the earphones and the plastic earphones themselves. We really liked the yellow-black color scheme of our test device. The design is simple and the build quality is decent. The device weighs only 30 g and is comfortable to wear and can be used for hours.
Like the previous Realme earphones, the Realme Buds Wireless have magnets in each earphone. While the wired models have no other purpose than holding the two earphones together, the magnetic clip serves as a power switch for the Realme Buds Wireless. The headset is switched on by disconnecting the buds and switched off when attached. There is no on / off switch, so this is the only way to control the headset's power supply.
In theory, that sounds good, but the weak magnets made it easy to separate the headphones when they were put in a pocket. This would turn on the headphones and automatically connect to our paired smartphone, even if we didn't want what was annoying. Calls would be automatically diverted from the smartphone's earphones without our knowledge, the battery would be discharged and the phone would not automatically connect to other devices such as a Bluetooth car radio.
We found it best to keep the headphones on a table or around your neck when not in use, which obviously wasn't always practical. A suitable storage case might have helped, but the Realme Buds Wireless doesn't have one.
The scope of delivery includes three pairs of silicone earplugs, ear wings preassembled on the earphones and a micro USB cable for charging. The charging port is located on the bottom of the right module, which also contains the controls for playback, calls and volume.
The Realme Buds wireless earphones are powered by 11.2mm drivers with Bluetooth 5 and support for the SBC and AAC codecs. The earphones have a battery life of 12 hours with a single charge and are said to offer 100 minutes of listening time with a 10-minute charge when the battery is empty. In our tests, we were able to achieve 9 hours of operation, while fully charging the headset took a little less than 3 hours.
Realme Buds wireless performance
Our experience with wireless headphones at prices below Rs. 2,000 has been largely unsatisfactory, and we have accepted that good wireless products cost at least Rs. 5000. The Realme Buds Wireless bring a refreshing change to the budget segment and offer a great combination of design and sound quality for the price. Electronic music fans will also be happy to know that the Realme Buds Wireless are tuned to the input of the popular DJ Alan Walker and the sound is suitable for this genre.
We tested the wireless earbuds with a OnePlus 7 Pro (review) and an iPad mini 2019, using both the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codec. We listened to streamed music from Spotify and YouTube Music, as well as our collection of high definition songs.
Starting with Take Five of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, we immediately noticed that the sound stage was considerably wider and more detailed than we are used to from products in this price range. Some of the percussion instruments sounded clear and well defined, although the deeper elements in the middle of the track – especially the double bass – were a bit soft and not quite as clear as we would have liked. Still, we found that the sound was broadly detailed and rich.
We then moved on to Zombies On Your Lawn, the catchy theme song of the popular mobile game Plants Vs. Zombies. Like the previous Realme Buds analog earphones, the Realme Buds Wireless is definitely geared towards the low end, and the punchy bass was clearly heard in the heavy synthesized parts of this electronic track. We felt the bass wasn't quite as strong as the Realme Buds 2 can, but we were still impressed with the attack and drive for a wireless headset.
Next we heard some Indian pop with an unplugged version of Amar Arshi's Kala Chasma. Apart from a slight aggression in the lower range, we also liked the harmless nature of the mids and highs, as the familiar vocals of the track show. The sound of the Realme Buds Wireless is tuned to comfort and almost universal appeal and adheres to these specifications. We heard as much detail and clarity as we hoped for from a pair of wireless headphones that cost less than Rs. 2000.
We also used Realme Buds Wireless as a hands-free headset for voice calls, and the results were mixed. In some cases, we found that the voices on the other end of the call were low and our callers reported too much background noise – a crow about two meters away sounded like it was coming from right next to us, for the person on the other end. In other cases, no problems have been reported, so the call quality is highly dependent on your environment and possibly on the strength of your cellular signal.
More expensive headphones like the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 and the 1More Stylish Dual Dynamic Driver may offer a lot more sound quality, but the Realme Buds Wireless only does a good job for Rs. 1,799. This is a product worth considering, simply because it is all you need for the price.
This headset is well built, has a decent battery life and is very comfortable to wear. The only significant problem for us was the magnetic power switch, which often caused the headphones to turn on automatically at uncomfortable times. That being said, the Realme Buds Wireless is a pair of headphones that do exactly what they should – no more and no less – with unwavering consistency, and we like it for that.
Price: Rs. 1,799
- Looks good
- Light and convenient
- Detailed, rich sound for the price
- Magnetic switch is annoying
- Inconsistent voice call performance
Reviews (of 5)
- Design / comfort: 3.5
- Audio quality: 3
- Battery life: 3.5
- Price-performance ratio: 4.5
- Overall: 3.5